How Valuable is a Dishwasher?

A modern appliance is invented and many in an industrialized society eventually gravitate toward it.

Will it save us time? Will it do exactly what marketers say it will do? What will it cost? Is it a good use of time and energy?

A few confessions: I did not grow up with a dishwasher. I was the dish washer. Actually, my four siblings and I cleared, washed, and dried dishes from kindergarten through high school. We didn’t own a dishwasher when I was growing up. Therefore, I was exposed to washing dishes by hand from an early age and generally accepted that fact. I felt the more you wash dishes by hand, the better you become so after a while, it wasn’t a difficult task to complete.

On the other hand, my wife grew up with a dishwasher–she was socialized and taught to believe no sane person in an industrialized society should manually clean dishes. That’s why you have a dishwasher! If you have a modern appliance, one uses it to the fullest to simplify and improve your life. When we first met over 20 years ago, she could not understand why I would wash dishes by hand. From her perspective, she didn’t see the purpose. In other words, if you have one, why ever go back to something so basic as washing all those dirty dishes in a sink full of hot, soapy water.

If you really think objectively, there may be some disadvantages to using a dishwasher. A modern convenience does not necessarily mean it’s a modern convenience. Were we conditioned to believe that? Would it be safe to say that only those who sometimes wash their dishes by hand feel there are disadvantages to owning and using a dishwasher?

What about those who normally use a dishwasher? Would any of these people over time start to see less and less value in the dishwasher? Will any of them question it over time or consider it just average? That’s a difficult thing to gauge. In terms of my analysis and evaluation, it is primarily based on a few dishwashers I have owned over the years in terms of size, age, functionality, and noise generated.

My Disadvantages:
1. You have to bend over to place dishes in the dishwasher. Sometimes, you have to move around dishes to other areas to ensure all dishes fit in place.

2. If you don’t dirty too many dishes at a time, you may only run the dishwasher once a week. That means those “dirty” dishes eliminate the amount of clean glasses, bowels, silverware or plates available. This can become an inconvenience. If you run it half-full because you need certain dishes, which are not a good use of resources.

3. You have to clean (or at least thoroughly rinse) the dishes before placing them in the dishwasher. If you run the sink water enough to clean, scrub or rinse the dishes, why not just do them by hand? You could potentially spend as much water preparing to put the dishes in the dishwasher as doing them by hand and finishing the task.

4. What goes in must go out. Once you’re done, you have to “bend over” and pull out the clean dishes. We’ve yet invented a modern appliance to do this for us. Don’t forget to bring along a clean towel to “dry” any dishes still damp or containing water.

5. There’s the noise factor too. Our dishwasher is about 8 years old and when we run it, we need to turn up the sound on our TV, which is some 30 feet away.

6. When doing dishes by hand, there are no additional costs involved. Using this modern appliance, you need to consider the cost of buying or replacing the existing one.

7. Some modern appliances can be considered a godsend and save time and a lot of work. For example, I’d put the washing machine in that category. To physically wash three or four loads by hand would be an arduous task and would be incredibly time consuming. A dishwasher doesn’t save you much time or convenience although it still may have a little value to some, but certainly, nothing compared to a washing machine.

8. Even if you didn’t have to rinse or wash the dishes prior to putting them in the dishwasher, it appears there’s a lot of water used to clean the dishes. Don’t have the exact amount of water used for a load in the dishwasher but it’s safe to say, it’s more water per item than washing the dishes by hand.

9. If you have a party, you’re bound to generate a bunch of dishes–only so many will fit into the dishwasher which means you have to do some dishes by hand anyway.

My Advantages:
1. You load the dishes in the dishwasher and you don’t have to worry about them for a while.

2. Every once in a while, it probably would not hurt to run your dishes through the dishwasher to give them another option to be sterilized. Although you could achieve the same results by using hot, soapy water washing them by hand.

I consider dishwashers a modern convenience that most people feel they can’t live without. If they really think about, they may be able to live without–especially if they learn to do dishes by hand. At the very least, even if you have one, you don’t necessarily have to always rely on it. I’d be the first to admit it’s a “nice to have” and does come in handy from time to time but I question its overall value – especially knowing that washing dishes by hand is a very straightforward process and generally only takes a handful of minutes to complete.

There may be other advantages to dishwashers that I don’t see. If this is the case, please enlighten me so I can gain benefit to the unit that takes up space under my kitchen counter.


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